Graduate Student Aims to Infuse Culture into Public Health

Hannah Warren, Leader from the Region

Storyknife, November/December 2020 edition

Hannah Warren - Calista Shareholder and CECI Scholarship Recipient

Hannah Warren, Calista Shareholder and CECI Scholarship Recipient, earned a Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice from UAA this summer.

Hannah Warren is a Calista Corporation Shareholder born in Anchorage and raised throughout the YK Region and Anchorage with ties to Chevak. Hannah graduated this summer from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) with a Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice.

Hannah graduated with an emphasis in Cross Cultural Studies, Public Mental Health, and Public Health Ethics. She received financial support from Calista Education and Culture, Inc. through the scholarship program available to Calista Shareholders and Descendants.

“It was very tough for me financially to find ways to support myself through the graduate program, and I’m very grateful Calista was there to support me,” Hannah says.

She earned her Bachelor in Health Sciences before completing her graduate degree.

“I was told that I was the first person at UAA to graduate in the intended pathway [of Bachelor of Health Sciences to Master of Public Health],” Hannah says. “As an Alaska Native woman, it was so shocking to hear—I get to pave the way! I couldn’t have done it without assistance from Calista Education!”

Hannah’s mom is from Chevak, but Hannah grew up throughout the YK Region and rural Alaska. Her parents worked as special education teachers moving from village to village. Her Cup’ik names are Nuguraq and Atsaq.

“We moved year after year until we finally settled in Anchorage,” Hannah says. “One of those years I spent in Chevak as a young kid.”

During her time at UAA, she worked as a Resident Advisor on campus. Her experience exposed her to the public health field and sparked her interest in preventing and raising awareness to diseases or conditions.

“I was first interested in direct healthcare. Direct healthcare works to intervene when people are suffering through a certain condition, which I saw in past experiences,” Hannah says. “I was thinking, there’s got to be a way to prevent these conditions from happening in the first place, so that’s when I shifted my interest to public health.”

Hannah utilized her degree right after she received it and started working as a Program Manager for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

“Throughout my years in college, I learned about multi-generational trauma, how Alaska Native culture was impacted by Western contact, and just how education truly affects all aspects of health and wellness,” Hannah says.

How culture affects health is just as impactful, but not as well understood, Hannah says. She is excited to be part of the movement that advances the importance of culture into the area of public health.

“I advise my fellow students and graduates alike to continue engaging, learning and practicing your culture. For me, it starts with relearning my Native language and connecting more fully with my family here in Anchorage,” Hannah says.

When asked what carried her through to earn her graduate degree, Hannah says the support she received from her friends, family and other supportive organizations. Although to realize that success, she says you must be the driver in your own future.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for support,” Hannah says. “We’ve all been there before, we all know how it is. If you never ask, then you’ll never know.”

Calista Education and Culture, Inc. (CECI) was established as an Alaska Native-owned 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing educational scholarships to Calista Corporation Shareholders and Descendants.

CECI awarded $359,000 in scholarships in 2020, and $5.5 million in scholarships since 1994. CECI awards scholarships two times each year. The application deadline for the Spring 2021 semester is December 1, 2020 (Official Transcripts due January 5). Apply today at: